This Moment

Now a half-century since their earliest adventures, Shakti is back with age-defying guitarist John McLaughlin (who’s now 81) and tabla master Zakir Hussain, plus a new violinist and vocalist. The results are brimming with excitement and flawless execution. Using electric guitar and guitar synthesizer, McLaughlin lights up “Shrini’s Dream” with glowing chords over the wild rhythms and Ganesh Rajagopalan’s modal violin. When John finally enters, be prepared for shockingly quick jazz lines from the octogenarian.

The flute-line runs that introduce “Bending the Rules” are McLaughlin’s guit-synth, while clean guitar brings intricate arpeggios and a full-bodied solo. “Karuna” is a beautiful ballad with spritely lines that seem to float in midair. The warm string pads at the outset of “Changay Naino” are guitar – not keyboards – while John drops a brief solo dripping in blues and swampy, overdriven tone. Heavy chromaticism lights up his improv in “Sono Mama,” along with funky synth-bass that you may think is Jan Hammer – again, that’s John’s MIDI guitar.

In all, This Moment is a powerful comeback for a band out of action for 10 years. While the east-west grooves of Shakti aren’t for everyone, McLaughlin again seems ageless.

This article originally appeared in VG’s August 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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